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Originally published January 31, 2014 at 5:52 PM | Page modified January 31, 2014 at 7:13 PM

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Downtown’s upscale Pacific Place mall for sale

The block-sized, six-story mall played a key role in downtown’s turnaround 15 years ago.

Seattle Times business reporter

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Pacific Place, the locally owned retail mecca credited with catalyzing a revival of downtown Seattle, is for sale.

“Assuming we get a fair price for it, it’ll get sold,” said Matt Griffin, a partner in Pine Street Development, Pacific Place’s owner. The regional shopping center opened in 1998.

The block, which is bounded by Pine Street and Olive Way and Sixth and Seventh avenues, consists of a six-story upscale shopping center and a 1,200-stall underground garage. The city owns the garage, which has been losing money and isn’t for sale.

A Barnes & Noble and AMC movie theater anchor the 335,000-square-foot shopping center, which is also home to luxury retailers like Tiffany & Co. and Barneys New York.

“If someone wants to own a core property in a city center that’s very hard to duplicate, Pacific Place becomes a great asset for that,” Griffin said in an interview Friday. “There are lots of people looking now to make investments in great cities.”

Earlier this week, one block over on Pike Street, the 148,000-square-foot shopping complex occupied by NikeTown and the Regal Meridian 16 theaters was bought by Clarion Partners for $113.2 million.

Given its strategic location, Pacific Place could fetch a record price for a retail shopping center in the Seattle market. Its opening also was a turning point in downtown Seattle’s direction.

“Matt Griffin and the vision he had 20 years ago should go down in history with the Dennys and the other builders of downtown Seattle, and Pacific Place is one of his visions,” said Dick Outcault, partner in Outcault & Johnson Retail Strategists. “He deserves all the kudos in the world for what he did for Seattle’s retail scene.”

The capital for the $175 million project came from Griffin and a group of investors that included prominent local businesspeople.

“We were fortunate to have the great families in Seattle and a mayor in Norm Rice who was willing to use his political capital. Thank God it all worked,” Griffin said.

Pacific Place is the last holding in Pine Street Development’s commercial portfolio here, Griffin said. Last fall the group sold 1505 5th Ave. for $6.4 million. In 2005, it sold the Fifth & Pine office complex for $55.1 million. The group also once owned the Seaboard Building at Fourth Avenue and Pike Street.

Griffin declined to say what his group is asking for Pacific Place, which is being marketed by Eastdil Secured.

The grand bet that hatched Pacific Place started with a problem, according to reports at the time: Downtown Seattle was in a downward spiral in 1992 when the historic 10-story Frederick & Nelson department store closed on the block bounded by Fifth and Sixth avenues and Pine Street and Olive Way.

Griffin and his investment partners bought the property in 1996 and struck a deal with the Nordstrom family, swapping it for the old Nordstrom store and the Seaboard Building.

They also agreed to develop the Pacific Place retail center and ensure it had a parking garage, to encourage the public to shop at the new Nordstrom store. The city contributed capital by agreeing to pay the developers $73 million for the parking garage.

To this day, the skyway bridge built between Pacific Place and Nordstrom’s flagship store is a visible reminder of that partnership, Outcault said.

“Whoever owns Pacific Place hopefully will recognize the enormous synergism of that bridge it has connecting to Nordstrom,” he said. “That’s just an incredible umbilical cord.”

Sanjay Bhatt: 206-464-3103 or On Twitter @sbhatt

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